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The Golden Work Years

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U.S. residents over age 70 are getting far more income from jobs and far less from earnings on assets than they did back in the 1980s.

A researcher at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, has presented data supporting that conclusion in a study analyzing government income data for elderly U.S. residents.

Although the percentage of annual income coming from pensions and annuities soared for U.S. residents over age 80, the percentage stayed roughly the same for U.S. residents ages 65 to 79 from 1987 to 2004, according to Ken McDonnell, an EBRI benefits expert.

For all older age categories, the percentage of total income coming from Social Security was roughly comparable in 1987 and in 2004.

But McDonnell found that the percentage of income coming from earnings on assets fell sharply for all older age categories studied. Older Americans got only about 15% of their income from assets in 2004, down from about 30% in 1987.

Earnings from work rose sharply.

The share of total income coming from work increased to 37% in 2004, from 26% in 1987, for members of the 65-69 age group; to 14%, from 7%, for members of the 75-79 age group; and to 3.4%, from 2.4%, for members of the 85 and over age group.


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